A request for continued examination (aka RCE) allows a patent applicant to continue the examination of their patent application after patent prosecution (or examination) on their patent application has ended. For example, upon receiving a final office action, patent prosecution has ended. However, upon filing an RCE, the prosecution of the patent application is opened back up and examination continued. Otherwise, without filing the RCE, the patent application will be abandoned.
When should you file a Request for Continued Examination?
A request for continued examination should be filed when all claims have been rejected and you don’t want to delay the grant of your patent. Most patent applications are rejected numerous times. As such, it isn’t uncommon to file one or two requests for continued examination to obtain a patent.
Before you file the request for continued examination, you should conduct an examiner’s interview over the phone. By doing so, you will spend less money because you get to hear what the examiner thinks about your invention. Sometimes, the examiner will ask you if you will file the Request for Continued Examination. If they ask, just say yes.
What options do you have other than filing the Request for Continued Examination?
In lieu of filing the RCE, you can file a continuation patent application or appeal the case to the Patent and Trademark Appeal Board to avoid abandonment of your patent application.
Filing a continuation patent application places your patent application at the back of the line for examination. You have to wait till the patent office once again works through its backlog to examine your patent application again.
Filing an appeal will delay the grant of your patent by at least one or two years.
Now, if you want to delay costs associated with your patent application, then file the appeal or continuation application.
After you receive the final office action, you can file an AFCP 2.o. You would have to conduct an interview and ask the examiner if the AFCP 2.0 is appropriate. The AFCP 2.0 is only suitable if the examiner believes that your claims are close to being allowed. Otherwise, you will have to file the Request for Continued examination.
What are the costs and steps to file the Request for Continued Examination?
The cost to file a Request for Continued Examination is a few hundred dollars for a micro entity and up to a couple thousand dollars for a large entity. Search for USPTO Fee Schedule on google to find the current fees.